Michael Cohen investigators piece together shredded documents, encrypted messages

June 16, 2018

Federal prosecutors investigating President Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen claimed Friday to have reconstructed shredded documents seized during the April 9 raids of his home, office and hotel room.

In a letter addressed to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said they were successful in deciphering around 16 pages worth of documents recovered from the contents of a “shredding machine” seized during the raids, as well as approximately 731 of pages worth of data related to encrypted messaging applications found on Mr. Cohen’s cellphones, including call logs and messages.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyer were given access to the data on Friday and asked to let the court know by June 25 whether it will argue that any of it should be protected by attorney-client privilege, the letter said.

Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge appointed as special master in the case, will ultimately review any claims argued by Mr. Cohen’s team and decide if any data should be shielded.

The letter did not specify how the encrypted messages were deciphered by investigators.

The shredded documents and cellphones were seized by investigators over two months ago as part of a federal probe centered around Mr. Cohen, 51, spurred by his payment of $130,000 during the 2016 U.S. presidential race to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with Mr. Trump a decade earlier.

Mr. Cohen has not been charged with any crimes, but prosecutors are reportedly investigating him for potentially campaign finance law violations and wire fraud as a result of his conduct.

Michael Avenatti, an attorney for the actress, born Stephanie Clifford, predicted Friday that the recovered data “could pose a huge problem for Mr. Cohen and ultimately Mr. Trump.”

An attorney listed as representing Mr. Cohen in the case did not immediately return an email seeking comment.